My dear friends, what do we think is “the bottom line”? Do we imagine that everything will work out in the end, and that we simply need the right leadership to make things right? Do we imagine that someone other than ourselves should deal with this multitude of crises—should come to our rescue and take care of us?
What is our personal role and responsibility? How can we respond effectively?
The wreckage we face in this day can easily inspire feelings of helplessness. We don’t know what to do or where to start. And being overly reactive can just make things worse.
It’s easier to see what needs to be done for our families or in our communities, where the needs are practical.
I want to avoid preaching. That’s not my place. But I’d like to suggest that finding our way forward in this time of hardship and testing will depend first on our personal integrity and self-confidence.
What kind of persons are we? Who do we want to be?
Can we see how important it can be in a time such as this to have our feet planted firmly on the ground?
How can one think clearly in the confusion of a disrupted society? Will we ever find constancy or assurance in partisan politics?
In my view, gaining balance in our lives depends on the foundation we build within ourselves. And this foundation is called integrity.
What is integrity? How is it created?
I will share a secret with you. The foundation of all things in the human world is trust. This is the secret in personal relationships, in communities, and in nations.
Rebuilding damaged trust takes time and constancy. And its’ first requirement is truthfulness.
All of trusts’ necessities begin with truthfulness: honesty, dependability, trustworthiness.
Where do we begin?
The pathway to trust might seem simplistic, but this is because its’ requirements are so basic.
We may think it a hopeless endeavor, but I am not addressing hardened attitudes and closed minds. I am talking to you, dear reader.
First, kind words and friendliness can open doors and penetrate hearts. Being the first to listen can make all the difference. Even the most stubborn attitudes can be penetrated with generosity of spirit, however long it may take.
If others are not ready to listen or respond, leave them to themselves. We must always move on. Yet, there can be no integrity in isolation.
Integrity lives and grows in our engagement with people. It is the product of thoughtful relationships. It requires inquisitive interest.
The greatest tests on this rocky road are steadfast grace, commitment and consistency.
We are called to seek our common humanity, but no one is asking us to agree on everything. We can keep our views and our values. Something greater needed.
The integrity that takes root in relationships soon spreads to implant itself in the character of a family, community or nation.
This is not easy, but it is real. It takes time. And the struggle remains deeply personal.
Even if we are fortunate to have a religious community, our integrity remains very much our own. Guidance can be a great help. True friendship is a blessing. But life’s struggle is always personal.
And in the end, the wisdom we gain can only be our own.
We can protest against injustice or politics or misbehavior. We can blame people or institutions, social degradation or human history. But we control just one thing, and that is ourselves.
Strangely enough, it is actually this one thing—personal integrity—upon which the integrity of nations and societies depend.
Nothing in business, politics, or society will matter until we get this right. And it can only be made right by each and every one of us, deep within ourselves.
You may watch for the next post on or about 14 September.
Interested readers can find an introduction to the coming book and several chapters (in draft) linked at the top of the homepage
Well said, Tom. I really don’t know when we lost personal responsibility for good citizenship. When did the greatest good get tossed to the wayside for Me, Me, Me? How do we recover that???
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Covers a lot of ground.
But yes trust/risk balance. Moving always to extend trust.
To know how to test for best information.
How to be effective.
And how to be extremely patient.
Many are trying to put all behind an ideology instead of seeking thru every issue and deciding how to address it in daily conversation.
Hi, Tom. I enjoyed The Bottom Line. Good take on integrity. Rachel
On Sat, Aug 28, 2021, 13:27 Liberty and the American Idea wrote:
> Tom posted: ” My dear friends, what do we think is “the bottom line”? Do > we imagine that everything will work out in the end, and that we simply > need the right leadership to make things right? Do we imagine that someone > other than ourselves should deal wit” >
My thoughts on this subject is that there are people who make things happen & people who let things happen. I have always tried to be a person who made things happen. If there is a problem, I prefer to find a solution. I notice that not everyone wants to find a solution. Some people would rather just complain about it or leave it to others to resolve. The world is made up of very diversified groups of people. I see it as an asset that we all have different ways of contributing to our families, neighborhoods & communities. I like the saying, “Variety is the spice of life”. If we all liked the same thing or wanted to do everything the same way, it would be a rather boring world.
I believe that we need to take responsibility in a crisis, gather the best people who bring a variety of talents together to troubleshoot & come up with the best plan. In addition, if the plan isn’t working, we need to step back, re-evaluate, learn from it & come up with a different approach. Be willing to make changes as needed & persevere.
I agree that in order to find solutions to all of the chaos, we will have to depend on ourselves & others to be capable of trust, truthfulness & integrity. Without those 3 values I don’t see a path forward out of the chaos.
Hi Pat. I agree, but wish to emphasize that constructive action is not really possible without a moral foundation. Moral responsibility is not enacted on the fly. It is a reflection of what we are made of. Developing/changing ourselves takes time and determined effort. This is a choice, but it takes work. As I asked in the post, what kind of person are we? Who do we want to be?
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Everyone will always have their own code of conduct. That there are some that we can well do without. But how to persuade, that is the issue. Few will take a balanced approach. Selfishness always is a big factor. Then the L/R political fundamentalism. Peer pressure. Just to list a few bigger factors.
It’s true, Tim. My view is that authentic community will become gradually more attractive over time, as its value becomes more obvious. With a deepening crisis and dangerously deteriorating conditions, the concept will be increasingly attractive with concern for personal safety and survival. Later, interest will be generated by the immense attractiveness of living examples.
It will be the necessities of the community experience itself that actually inspires genuine personal change.